Enough theory. Though I like theory. Theory good.
But we’re just past a month into the season and it’s time to put all that good theory to practice. Starting today and then twice weekly, I’ll highlight some under-the-radar players that have a chance to contribute in the various scoring categories. We’ll time posting to best coordinate when series typically begin on Monday and Friday. You can use this to help set lineups in leagues with daily moves or formats such as the National Fantasy Baseball Championships with bi-weekly hitting transactions. Of course you can also help build your daily fantasy lineups though I strongly suggest you check out our new daily projections and salary tool as well.
RUNS AND RBI
Runs and RBI are volume stats (the more at bats, the more chances). The time to take advantage of volume is early in the week as everyone plays from Friday through Sunday but teams have varying off days from Monday through Thursday.
For example, Boston and Cincinnati only play two games as each have Monday and Thursday off. You’ll probably want to avoid the fringe players like Will Middlebrooks, Jonny Gomes, Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. Though, in leagues with daily moves, Chris Heisey is assured of playing with Jay Bruce on the DL and he’s been hitting at the top of the Reds’ order so he’s a good target for runs.
On the other hand, Seattle plays five games in four games featuring a doubleheader with Oakland on Thursday.
Here are the teams with four games: Chicago (AL), Chicago (NL), Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minnesota, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Texas and Toronto. Of those squads, I like the Cubs to score some runs against a weak White Sox staff but note this is a home and home series with the first two in Wrigley before moving to Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’s hood, the south side of Chicago. Other juicy matchups include another home and home between Texas and Colorado where both teams should pile up the points and the Tigers having a chance to feast on a weak Astros’ staff for four games at home. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Phillies and Blue Jays put up some crooked numbers in their Interleague home and home set.
Love the lefties for the Brew Crew this week as the Diamondbacks visit Miller Park. Scooter Gennett, Lyle Overbay, Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer all have a chance to take advantage of the rather non-daunting troika of Bronson Arroyo, Michael Bolsinger and Josh Collmenter. It wouldn’t be surprising if Aramis Ramirez sends Bernie Brewer down the slide.
The potential slugfests between the Rangers and Rockies were already discussed in terms of runs potential. Under-the-radar hitters that can take advantage are Jordan Pacheco from Colorado who will see the bulk of time at catcher with Wilin Rosario out and Leonys Martin and Michael Choice from Texas. A situation the bears watching is the two-hole in Arlington. Ron Washington hit Elvis Andrus ninth on Sunday. If this continues and Leonys Martin hits second against right-handers, that’s a nice boost.
The lefty swingers on Cleveland have to be drooling with four right-handers slated to toe the rubber for Minnesota in Progressive Field. Look for Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, David Murphy and Nick Swisher all look to take big cuts against Kyle Gibson, Sam Deduno, Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Correia.
Here are some lesser starters that I am comfortable running with. Note that I pegged Brandon McCarthy and Phil Hughes over the weekend, both of which pitched well. My third suggestion was Dallas Keuchel and for six innings that looked good too, but it came apart for the Astros in the seventh.
Monday, May 5
Zach McAllister, Cleveland Indians vs Minnesota Twins: I like but don’t love this match-up. On paper it’s appealing since the Twins fan the 11th most vs RHP but McAllister’s K/BB is only 13/6 over his last 15.1 innings. The whiffs are fine it’s the walks that are concerning especially since the Twins are the most patient team in the Majors versus right-handers.
Yusmeiro Petit, San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates: Granted, Petit has only started one game but for the season, he boasts a sparkling 20 strikeouts against only four free passes in 20.3 innings. The game is at Pittsburgh which is a good pitcher’s park but more importantly, the Bucs’ OPS facing RHP is the 11th worse in the bigs.
Tuesday, May 6
Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners: Chavez sports an impressive K/BB of 19/6 spanning his last 18 stanzas. The Mariners whiff the second most in the league vs RHP.
Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres vs Kansas City Royals: To be honest, I don’t expect a lot of punch outs but Erlin should have a solid outing so he’s safe to use. The Royals don’t fan much but their OPS and wOBA vs LHP is poor. In DFS, I’d definitely fade him, even on multiple pitcher sites. He won’t amass ample K’s to rack up the points.
Wednesday May 7
Tom Koehler, Miami Marlins vs New York Mets: Here’s another borderline options since Koehler is not particularly dominant but rather the Metropolitans fan a lot against righties. Though, they recently punched out only twice while drawing four bases on balls from Koehler. But that was at home; this time they’re playing in South Beach.
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers vs Arizona Diamondbacks: Peralta is probably going to be a favorite play in DFS Wednesday (note it’s an afternoon game) even though the D-backs are only middle of the pack when it comes to fanning against RHP. But a 19/4 K/BB over his previous 21.1 innings is too good to ignore.
Thursday, May 8
Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers vs Houston Astros: Rain-outs and scheduling pushed Smyly to the bullpen for much of April but now that Anibal Sanchez is on the shelf, Smyly should get regular work. A home start against the tepid Astros should help keep Smyly in the groove.
Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres vs Miami Marlins: Ignore the 11 hits Kennedy surrendered last time out to Arizona, he fanned seven while walking only one – sometimes hits fall in clusters. That said, Miami doesn’t whiff as much as you might think so while I’m using Kennedy in traditional formats, I’ll fade him in DFS.
Derek - Stroman has no right being on a 10-team mixed roster. Even if you need pitching there just has to be better options. That said, be careful about timing streaks - it's usually a fool's errand. Streaks are non-predictive and it's best to ignore them (especially hot streaks) and go with matchups.
I don't have much bench hitting depth and currently have 7 very solid SP's and 2 SP on the DL (Alex Cobb and Taijuan Walker). Picked up Stroman the other day but would like to pick up Rasmus during his hot streak. Drop Stroman for Rasmus? Stroman is the only player I would even consider dropping on my roster right now. 10 team mixed roto
I need some stop-gap help at Util in a 5x5 roto league. My team is banged up (Mesoraco, Rosario, Eaton, Kipnis, Billy Hamilton, and Kole Calhoun...pitching is another story). Who do you like better for the week: Michael Saunders, Billy Butler, Khris Davis, or George Springer? Thanks!
Like but don't love Niese tonight - Miami (Stanton) can hit. I'll use Niese in weekly leagues for his 2-starts but I'll pass in daily leagues and would be judicious in daily roto leagues.
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Affectionately known as Lord Zola, Todd was the 2013 Fantasy Sports Writers Association recipient of the Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year, Web. He's been with Mastersball since its inception in 1997 and presently Todd writes for the ESPN Insider and Baseball HQ. Todd is a frequent guest on SiriusXM and is a regular on HQ Radio. He's a veteran of Tout Wars and LABR as well as a multi-time NFBC champion. Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddZola
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@SirNope working on that now. Could be meeting a local friend or could be hanging with the group -- I'll let you know.